Knights to Face Florida Saturday in Jacksonville

Dec. 19, 2008

Complete Release in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will face another tough challenge early in the season when the Knights meet Florida in Jacksonville Saturday. Tip-off at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena is set for 6:30 p.m.

The Knights (5-3) have won two-consecutive contests, including a 71-63 victory over cross-state foe USF on Dec. 6 in Orlando. Senior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla.) is 17th nationally in scoring at 21.3 points per game. Taylor is tops among all players in the state of Florida in the category.

The Gators (7-2) are currently receiving votes in both national polls. This year, the Knights have already faced opponents from some of the top conferences in the nation, including the BIG EAST (USF), Mountain West (New Mexico) and Southeastern (Ole Miss).

UCF-Florida will be televised live statewide on FSN-Florida. Larry Vettel is slated to handle the play-by-play duties and will be joined by Mark Wise.

The contest will be aired on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and 740 AM in Orlando. Pregame coverage will begin at 6 p.m. Marc Daniels will have the call and former Knight Mike O'Donnell will provide color commentary. Free audio will be available at UCFAthletics.com.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.

About Florida
? The Gators are currently garnering votes in both national polls. Florida's only two losses this season have come to Syracuse in Kansas City and at Florida State. In its last outing, the squad rolled to a 94-60 victory over visiting Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 10. Walter Hodge and Alex Tyus both totaled 19 points in the win. On the season, Nick Calathes is the team's top scorer at 15.0 points per game. The Gators are shooting 47.9 percent from the field.

Series Information
? Florida leads the all-time series with the Knights, 8-0. The squads last met on Dec. 3, 2005, and the No. 11 Gators posted a 101-76 win over UCF in Gainesville. Justin Rose paced the Knights with 12 points. In 14 minutes off the bench, Jermaine Taylor totaled three points and five boards. The Gators shot 52.5 percent overall for the contest and forced 19 UCF turnovers. Corey Brewer scored 25 points in the winning effort and Al Horford added 17 points.
? UCF and Florida will be meeting for the second time in Jacksonville. On Dec. 4, 2003, the schools played the first college basketball game at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena and the second-ranked Gators recorded a 59-39 victory in front of 12,940 fans. The Knights connected on only 28.6 percent of their shots from the field. Josh Bodden led the squad with 14 points and also had eight rebounds. Florida connected on 48.1 percent of its field-goal attempts and was led by 19 points from Matt Walsh.
? The contest with the Gators will serve as UCF's second game against a Southeastern Conference foe this year. The team played at Ole Miss on Nov. 26. All-time, the Knights are winless in 22 tries against SEC programs.

Last Time Out
? Jermaine Taylor totaled 31 points as the Knights rolled to a 110-68 win over visiting Florida Tech on Dec. 12. Four Knights finished with double-figures in scoring as the team shot 58.9 percent overall for the game. Isaac Sosa connected on six 3-pointers and added 22 points. UCF shot 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) from 3-point range.

Up Next for the Knights
? UCF will return to action Monday, hosting Valparaiso. The contest will complete a home-and-home series between the two programs. On Nov. 18, the Knights fell 69-52 at Valparaiso. Jermaine Taylor totaled a game-high 18 points for UCF.
? The contest with the Crusaders will begin a six-game homestand for the Knights. After meeting Florida, UCF will not have another game away from Orlando until Jan. 13 at UAB.

UCF-Florida Connections
? UCF head coach Kirk Speraw served as an assistant coach at Florida under Lon Kruger from 1990-93. The Gators enjoyed great success with Speraw on the staff, winning 19 contests in 1991-92 and advancing to the postseason National Invitation Tournament semifinals.
? One of the best players in Florida history, UCF assistant Craig Brown starred for the Gators from 1991-94. He ranks 16th all-time in scoring at the school with 1,419 points. The shooting guard finished his career as Florida's all-time leader in 3-point field goals made (186). Brown helped lead the Gators to the 1994 Final Four and earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the NCAA Tournament's East Regional.
? Garrett Tyler, the brother of UCF's A.J. Tyler, played for the Gators from 2004-07. Garrett was a member of Florida's 2006 and 2007 national title teams.
? UCF's Isaac Sosa and Florida's Walter Hodge both hail from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
? Last year, UCF's Amara Thompson was teammates with Florida's Kenny Kadji at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Thompson is redshirting this season.

Duval Call
? The contest in Jacksonville will serve as a homecoming for P.J. Gaynor. The freshman forward attended Mandarin High School and is one of eight players from Florida on UCF's roster. Gaynor was a Florida Class 6A All-State Second Team selection as a senior last year after averaging 15.9 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks.
? Gaynor is averaging 5.3 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman for UCF. He is shooting 61.5 percent from the field. In UCF's last outing, Gaynor recorded 12 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes against Florida Tech.

Florida's Finest
? The contest in Jacksonville will pit two of the winningest programs in the Sunshine State against each other. Dating back to the start of the 2002-03 campaign, Florida has won 168 games, the most among any full-time Division I program in the state. The Gators are followed by UCF as the Knights have claimed 127 victories during that span. UCF participated in the NCAA Tournament in both 2004 and 2005.
? The top programs in Florida in the last six-plus years:

1. Florida (168)
2. UCF (127)
3. Florida State (116)
4. Miami (101)

Rated Rookies
? UCF's large freshman class has made an immediate impact this season. Six true freshmen and one redshirt freshman have seen time for the Knights this season.
? The rookies have played 697 out of 1,600 possible minutes (43.5 percent) during the year.
? The freshmen have accounted for 37.4 percent of the team's scoring this season.

The Comeback Kids
? The Knights have trailed at halftime in three of their five wins this season. Most recently, USF led UCF by two at the break on Dec. 6. The host Knights outscored the Bulls 45-35 in the second half to post an eight-point victory.
? At New Mexico on Nov. 22, UCF trailed by nine points with just 4:24 remaining in the game but came back to take a 72-71 win when Chris Baez nailed a triple with four seconds on the clock. Against South Dakota State on Nov. 29, UCF trailed by 10 points two minutes into the second half, but rallied to post a 66-64 victory.

The Fresh Prince
? Early in the season, it appears that UCF has found a scorer to complement Jermaine Taylor. Isaac Sosa ranks second on the team with 9.8 points per game. The freshman is shooting 47.6 percent overall. A native of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, he is shooting 42.1 percent from 3-point range, having connected on 16-of-38 attempts from deep.
? Sosa garnered Conference USA Rookie of the Week honors on Dec. 15 after recording 22 points in UCF's win over Florida Tech. He connected on 6-of-12 3-point field goal attempts. The six triples tied for seventh on the school's single-game 3-pointers register.
? As a senior last season, Sosa received Florida Class 1A All-State First Team honors at Grandview Prep in south Florida. He averaged 19.5 points and 6.5 assists. This past summer, Sosa played for Puerto Rico at the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Argentina. Sosa averaged 13.8 points and 3.2 boards at the event.

The Score
? When Isaac Sosa scored 22 points in UCF's win over Florida Tech on Dec. 12, it marked the first time since the 2000-01 season that a freshman totaled more than 20 points for the Knights. Before Sosa's scoring output, the last time a rookie achieved the feat was on March 1, 2001, when Joey Graham recorded 21 points versus Troy. The game against Florida Tech marked Sosa's first career start.

The Dish
? A.J. Rompza was nearly perfect running the team in UCF's last two games. The point guard dished out 18 assists and had just five turnovers for a 3.6 assist/turnover ratio in the two victories. Against Florida Tech on Dec. 12, Rompza had his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 assists in just 24 minutes.
? On the season, the Chicago native ranks fourth in Conference USA and 94th nationally, averaging 4.6 assists per game.
? Rompza started UCF's first four games of the season, but then came off the bench for both of the team's contests in Mexico at the Cancun Challenge (Nov. 29-30). He returned to the starting lineup on Dec. 6 when the Knights hosted cross-state foe USF.

Young the Restless
? Last season, Taylor Young appeared in 24 games, averaging 6.0 minutes as a redshirt freshman. He totaled just 16 points during the season. Kirk Speraw mostly used Young as a spark off of the bench. This year, he has a bigger role with the Knights.
? Young has started all eight of the team's games in 2008-09. He is averaging 5.3 points and 2.9 assists per contest. After playing 144 total minutes last season, he has already logged 166 minutes this year.

Fresh Starts
? Through seven games this season, Kirk Speraw has already used five different starting lineups. Nine different Knights have logged at least one start. Jermaine Taylor, Taylor Young and Kenrick Zondervan are the lone Knights who have started each game.
? Entering the season, a freshman had not started a game for UCF since the 2002-03 campaign. A.J. Rompza quickly broke that steak, appearing in the starting lineup against North Carolina A&T for the squad's season opener on Nov. 16. Both Rompza and fellow rookie Isaac Sosa started in UCF's last outing.

Big Man on Campus
? At 7-foot-4, Jakub Kusmieruk is the tallest player in school history. The freshman is the second-tallest player in the nation this season, trailing only 7-foot-5 Will Foster of Gonzaga. A native of Poland, Kusmieruk moved to the United States prior to his sophomore year high school and attended The John Carroll School in Maryland.
? Kusmieruk had the best game of his collegiate career Dec. 12, totaling six points and three rebounds in nine minutes versus Florida Tech.

Jermaine Taylor Notes
In the Lead
? One of the nation's premier offensive players, Jermaine Taylor is currently 17th nationally and second in Conference USA, averaging 21.3 points per game. The shooting guard has led the Knights in scoring in seven of the team's eight contests in 2008-09.

To the Top
? Taylor began the campaign 13th all-time at UCF in career scoring. After eight games, he has moved to eighth on the list with 1,337 points. Former teammate Josh Peppers is seventh with 1,376 points. Taylor also ranks fifth on the program's Division I scoring register.

Sunshine State Scoring
? Entering Saturday's game, Taylor is the most prolific scorer in the Sunshine State. His 21.3 points per game average is first among players at the 13 schools in Florida that sponsor Division I basketball. Taylor was the top scorer in the state a year ago when he averaged 20.8 points.
? The top scorers in Florida are below:

1. Jermaine Taylor, UCF (21.3)
2. Ben Smith, Jacksonville (18.4)
3. Toney Douglas, Florida State (17.9)
4. Dominique Jones, USF (17.3)

30-30 Club
? Taylor has totaled at least 30 points in back-to-back games for the Knights. On Dec. 6, he scored 30 points as UCF topped visiting USF at home. In the team's last contest, the Tavares native scored 31 points on Dec. 12 as the host Knights beat Florida Tech.
? Last year, Taylor became the first Knight to log back-to-back 30-point performances since the school moved to the Division I level in 1984-85 He recorded four 30-point efforts during the year.
? Taylor has posted six 30-point showings during his career.

All-Around Success
? This season, Taylor is exhibiting his all-around game. In addition to leading the team in scoring, he has been UCF's top rebounder in 2008-09, grabbing 6.1 boards per contest. Taylor also ranks first on the team in blocks with eight and is third with 21 assists.

Triple Trouble
? Taylor is currently tied for fourth all-time at UCF with 175 career 3-pointers. Against Florida, he should move past D'Quarius Stewart (1996-00) and Harry Kennedy (1995-97), who both made 175 treys during their careers. Taylor also ranks fourth in school history with 475 3-point attempts.

Elite Eight
? Through eight games last season, Taylor totaled141 points and was averaging 17.6 points per game. Taylor has increased his scoring output in 2008-09 as he has recorded 170 points in UCF's first eight contests of the year. He is averaging 21.3 points per game.

? After UCF's game against Morehead State on Nov. 30, Taylor was shooting 40.7 percent from the field. Two games later, he is 15th in Conference USA, connecting on 46.6 percent of his attempts.
? Taylor made 24-of-38 tries from the floor in UCF's last two outings, good for 63.2 percent.
? He is sixth all-time at UCF in career field goal attempts (1,064).